NFL 2016: What To Look For: Divisional Playoffs
NFL 2016: What To Look For: Divisional Playoffs

Here's what to look for during the Divisional Round of this year's NFL playoffs.

Regular Season Recap
Thriving on Offense | On the Defensive | Remarkable Rookies | Records & Milestones | Close Games

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Top Seeds Typically Top Dogs

Since the NFL moved to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, No. 1 seeds in the NFC are 22-4 (.846) in the Divisional Playoffs. In the AFC, the No. 1 seed has compiled a 16-10 (.615) record.

Both No. 1 seeds are in action this weekend when the top-seeded DALLAS COWBOYS host the GREEN BAY PACKERS in the NFC and the No. 1-seed NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS face the HOUSTON TEXANS in the AFC.


Top Seeds in Divisional-Round Play Since 1990

Year AFC Divisional Result NFC Divisional Result
Source: NFL
1990BuffaloDefeated Miami 44-34San FranciscoDefeated Washington 28-10
1991BuffaloDefeated Kansas City 37-14WashingtonDefeated Atlanta 24-7
1992PittsburghLost to Buffalo 24-3San FranciscoDefeated Washington 20-13
1993BuffaloDefeated L.A. Raiders 29-23DallasDefeated Green Bay 27-17
1994PittsburghDefeated Cleveland 29-9San FranciscoDefeated Chicago 44-15
1995Kansas CityLost to Indianapolis 10-7DallasDefeated Philadelphia 30-11
1996DenverLost to Jacksonville 30-27Green BayDefeated San Francisco 35-14
1997Kansas CityLost to Denver 14-10San FranciscoDefeated Minnesota 38-22
1998DenverDefeated Miami 38-3MinnesotaDefeated Arizona 41-21
1999JacksonvilleDefeated Miami 62-7St. LouisDefeated Minnesota 49-37
2000TennesseeLost to Baltimore 24-10N.Y. GiantsDefeated Philadelphia 20-10
2001PittsburghDefeated Baltimore 27-10St. LouisDefeated Green Bay 45-17
2002OaklandDefeated N.Y. Jets 30-10PhiladelphiaDefeated Atlanta 20-6
2003New EnglandDefeated Tennessee 17-14PhiladelphiaDefeated Green Bay 20-17 (OT)
2004PittsburghDefeated N.Y. Jets 20-17 (OT)PhiladelphiaDefeated Minnesota 27-14
2005IndianapolisLost to Pittsburgh 21-18SeattleDefeated Washington 20-10
2006San DiegoLost to New England 24-21ChicagoDefeated Seattle 27-24 (OT)
2007New EnglandDefeated Jacksonville 31-20DallasLost to N.Y. Giants 21-17
2008TennesseeLost to Baltimore 13-10N.Y. GiantsLost to Philadelphia 23-11
2009IndianapolisDefeated Baltimore 20-3New OrleansDefeated Arizona 45-14
2010New EnglandLost to N.Y. Jets 28-21Atlanta Lost to Green Bay 48-21
2011New EnglandDefeated Denver 45-10Green BayLost to N.Y. Giants 37-20
2012DenverLost to Baltimore 38-35 (2OT)AtlantaDefeated Seattle 30-28
2013DenverDefeated San Diego 24-17SeattleDefeated New Orleans 23-15
2014New EnglandDefeated Baltimore 35-31SeattleDefeated Carolina 31-17
2015DenverDefeated Pittsburgh 23-16CarolinaDefeated Seattle 31-24


Winning Ways

Four of the five winningest franchises in postseason history -- the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots -- are in action in the Divisional Playoffs.

The AFC's No. 1 overall seed New England hosts Houston (8:15 PM ET, CBS) on Saturday night. On Sunday, Pittsburgh travels to Kansas City (1:05 PM ET, NBC) while Green Bay visits Dallas (4:40 PM ET, FOX).

The Steelers, who defeated Miami 30-12 in the Wild Card round, have 35 postseason wins, the most in NFL history. The Cowboys (34), Packers (33) and Patriots (29) rank second, third and fifth, respectively, in all-time postseason victories.


Most Postseason Wins in NFL History

Team W L Pct Super Bowl Wins
Source: NFL *Play this weekend
Pittsburgh Steelers*3523.6036
Dallas Cowboys*3426.5675
Green Bay Packers*3321.6114
San Francisco 49ers3020.6005
New England Patriots*2919.6044


Patriot Presence

The New England Patriots have made five consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship game, tying the 1973-77 Oakland Raiders for the longest streak of Conference Championship game appearances since the 1970 merger.

With a win against Houston on Saturday, the Patriots would become the first team since 1970 to advance to six consecutive Conference Championship games.


Most Consecutive Conference Championship Appearances since 1970

Team Seasons Streak
Source: NFL *Play this weekend
New England Patriots*2011-155
Oakland Raiders1973-775
Philadelphia Eagles2001-044
Dallas Cowboys1992-954
Buffalo Bills1990-934
Dallas Cowboys1970-734


Booming Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN had five receptions for 124 yards, including touchdown catches of 50 and 62 yards in the first quarter of the Steelers' 30-12 win over Miami in the Wild Card round. Brown became the first player in postseason history with two touchdown receptions of at least 50 yards in the first quarter of a game.

With 100 receiving yards on Sunday at Kansas City, Brown, who has at least 100 receiving yards in each of his past three playoff games, will join LARRY FITZGERALD (four) as the only players in postseason history to record four consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards.


Most Consecutive Playoff Games with at Least 100 Yards

Player Season(s) Team Streak
Source: NFL *Active streak ^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Larry Fitzgerald2008Arizona Cardinals4
Antonio Brown*2014-16Pittsburgh Steelers3
T.Y. Hilton2013-14Indianapolis Colts3
Randy Moss1999-00Minnesota Vikings3
Jerry Rice^1988-89San Francisco 49ers3
Tom Fears^1950-51Los Angeles Rams3


Remarkable Rushers

Pittsburgh running back LE'VEON BELL had a franchise postseason-record 167 rushing yards with two touchdowns in the Steelers' 30-12 win against Miami in the Wild Card round, while Seattle running back THOMAS RAWLS rushed for 161 yards -- the highest single-game rushing total in team postseason history -- and one touchdown in the Seahawks' 26-6 win over Detroit last week.

Only five different running backs in playoff history have recorded 300 rushing yards over a two-game span in a single postseason.


At least 300 rushing yards over a two-game span in single postseason

Player Season Team Yards
Source: NFL *Through Wild Card round ^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Terrell Davis1998Denver Broncos366
Marcus Allen^1983Los Angeles Raiders345
John Riggins^1982Washington Redskins325
Natrone Means1996Jacksonville Jaguars315
John Riggins^1982Washington Redskins306
John Riggins^1982Washington Redskins304
Freeman McNeil1982New York Jets303
Le'Veon Bell*2016Pittsburgh Steelers167
Thomas Rawls*2016Seattle Seahawks161


Have Mercilus

Houston linebacker WHITNEY MERCILUS recorded two sacks in the Texans' 27-14 Wild Card win over Oakland.

With two sacks against New England on Saturday, Mercilus, who has five sacks in his past two postseason games, would have the most sacks over any three-game span in postseason history.


Most Sacks Over Any Three-Game Playoff Span

Player Season(s) Team Sacks
Source: NFL *In past two postseason games ^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Richard Dent^1984-85 Chicago Bears6.5
LaMarr Woodley2008 Pittsburgh Steelers6.0
LaMarr Woodley2007-08 Pittsburgh Steelers6.0
Kevin Greene^1988-89 Los Angeles Rams6.0
Richard Dent^1985 Chicago Bears6.0
Whitney Mercilus*2015-16 Houston Texans5.0


Three For Three

Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN ranked second in the NFL with 38 passing touchdowns during the 2016 season, including seven games with at least three touchdown passes.

With three touchdown passes against Seattle on Saturday, Ryan, who has thrown for three touchdowns in each of his past two playoff games, would become the sixth quarterback in postseason history with at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games.


Most Consecutive Postseason Games with at least 3 TD Passes

Player Season(s) Team Games
Source: NFL *Active streak
Tom Brady2014New England Patriots3
Joe Flacco2012Baltimore Ravens3
Aaron Rodgers2009-10Green Bay Packers3
Kurt Warner2008-09Arizona Cardinals3
Bernie Kosar1987, 1989Cleveland Browns3
Matt Ryan*2012Atlanta Falcons2


Safe Keeping

Kansas City quarterback ALEX SMITH has thrown for 1,309 yards with 11 touchdown passes and one interception in 186 postseason passing attempts.

Smith's 0.5 interception percentage is the lowest by a quarterback in postseason history (minimum 150 attempts). Dallas' TONY ROMO (1.1) and Green Bay's AARON RODGERS (1.6) rank second and fifth, respectively, in career interception percentage in NFL postseason history.


Lowest Playoff INT % (minimum 150 attempts)

Player Team(s) INT %
Source: NFL *In 2016 postseason
Alex Smith*San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs0.5
Tony Romo*Dallas Cowboys1.1
Drew BreesSan Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints1.3
Bart StarrGreen Bay Packers1.4
Aaron Rodgers*Green Bay Packers1.6



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